There are several points in the first half of the year when it starts to feel as though winter is behind us. First, is when we see early spring flowers like snowdrops and daffodils; then the clocks go forward, making our evenings longer and lighter; and not long after, come the bank holidays — those longed-for long weekends of April and May.
But 2022 is a little different, because it’s the Jubilee year, and we have an extra bank holiday in June to celebrate. That means there are now three months in a row with a bank holiday weekend — which means lots of potential customers for hospitality businesses.
Even if people don’t travel anywhere, the national mood is very much ‘vacation and celebration’ when it’s a bank holiday. And, after two years of so much being cancelled or put on hold because of Covid, these 2022 weekends are likely to feel like a proper party. With a little planning, you can take full advantage of the celebratory spirit and make hay while the sun (hopefully) shines.
Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Thursday (or Friday, or Wednesday) night deal or Happy Hour
The bank holiday revelry begins when people clock off — and a couple of after-work pints can easily turn into a big night out. Hook in to the spontaneous good feeling and offer something to tempt the early evening crowd through your door, or encourage them to stay longer. It could be pizza and beer, a Holiday Happy Hour, or a discounted early-bird meal deal. Whatever you do, be sure to advertise it loudly and proudly in the lead up to, and on, the day.
Offer a picnic package
A lot of people believe that bank holidays in the UK are jinxed by the bad weather gods, so you can be absolutely sure of one thing: if the sun is shining, everyone will want to be outside. If you’re a pub or a cafe with little or no outside space, this could mean a quiet weekend. But everyone loves a picnic, so why not offer something that people can pick up, pay for, and carry away? Along the lines of:
- Pre-made club sandwiches, crisps and fizzy drink
- A posh hamper with a bottle of fizz
- A ‘pie and pint’ pub picnic
Pro-tip: if you’re near a river, a lake or the sea, offer a Paddleboarder’s Picnic to appeal to those who got hooked on the (still) popular pandemic pastime. Lure them in with a waterproof hamper that they can pop on their board and paddle off with. If your hampers are reusable, you can charge a small deposit to ensure it gets dropped off on the way back.
Boozy or bottomless brunch
An oldie but a goodie. These never go out of fashion, and can be a bank holiday special that you only offer up a few times a year (to give that VIP feel). People tend to spend more money at a boozy brunch because it feels like an event, so they take their time and enjoy pushing the boat out. Plus, serving Buck’s Fizz when it’s not Christmas always feels like a celebration.
Special offer for holiday birthdays
Another way to bring in celebrating groups is to offer something to anyone with a bank holiday birthday. Whether they’re a May Day baby or share their birthday with the Queen (or were born on her Coronation date), you can tailor your offer to suit the weekend. An exclusive set menu, a birthday discount, or a free glass of bubbles will encourage people to choose you over the competition.
Big Jubilee Breakfast / Breakfast like a Queen
Set your customers up for the long weekend with a breakfast that soaks up the previous night’s excess or lessens tomorrow’s hangover. From a traditional fry-up to pancakes, bircher muesli or breakfast panini, there’s an option to suit your clientele. Give them lots of what they love and expect to see them coming back for more next bank holiday.
Have a fun alternative for the Jubilee Weekend
If you’re not a Royalist, or a royal celebration doesn’t feel right for your customers, you can still do something to set the weekend apart from others. How about:
- Only play music by Queen
- Only play music from the 1950s
- Have your staff dress up in 50s vintage or as members of Queen
Serve up a ‘Monday Roast’
Tempt people in for a long lunch to make the most of the last day of a special weekend. When Monday feels like a Sunday, it really is the right and proper thing to do.
Promote being family or dog friendly
It can be tough to find the right spot when you’ve got little ones or dogs in tow, so put out regular reminders that you’re child- and dog-friendly ahead of the weekend. Putting yourself on customers’ radars early will mean you’re in the running for big family get-togethers, as well as more spontaneous drop-ins. Advertise across social media, on sandwich boards, and all over your window display.
Advertise that you’re open
It’s not uncommon for people to assume that businesses close on bank holidays, so if you are open be sure to announce it to the world. It’s always disheartening to hear a customer say, a week or so later, “Oh if only we’d known, we’d have come here instead!”
So there you go — a selection of fun and easy marketing ideas to help you make the most of 2022's bank holiday weekends, and attract extra custom to your hospitality business. Let us know what you decide to do!